Ivy League Looks To Change Way Television Deals Are Structured
Television rights to Ivy League schools’ home games in the past “have been controlled by the individual member institutions,” but there have been “some major changes in how the Ivy League has handled getting basketball on TV since Robin Harris succeeded Jeff Orleans as the Ivy League’s executive director in 2009,” according to Jonathan Tannenwald of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Harris has made “increasing television exposure a priority throughout her time overseeing” the conference. A “significant change in how the rights negotiations are handled” came before the ‘10-11 season, when the eight Ivy League ADs "agreed to give Harris and her staff a stronger remit to go out and find a national broadcast outlet.” Penn AD Steve Bilsky said, "The old leadership in the league, I didn’t have that confidence in. Robin has made a concerted effort to make television one of her priorities, and has been very successful with a football package." Tannenwald noted the decision to “give rights to the conference office did not override existing contracts,” nor did it “preclude schools from pursuing their own deals if national deals were not agreed.” Princeton's deal with ESPNU and Yale's deal with YES Network “exist concurrently with the league's ability to shop the rights to games on a leaguewide basis.” Harris said, "We’re not signing a deal that is going to require us to play Wednesday games." Bilsky said that the league “won’t go for a deal that doesn’t get the level of exposure right.” Bilsky: “If it’s not in 50-plus million homes, it wouldn’t make sense to me. ... We can get on television, that’s not an issue. The issue is getting on national television, and I think that’s the goal.” Tannenwald noted Harris’ goal “is, and has been for some time, to have a national television deal in place for men’s basketball for the 2012-13 season” (PHILLY.com, 2/10).